August 13, 2012
How to Fish for Trout During the Tricorythodes Mayfly Hatches
By John Merwin
So here we are in August, which means much freshwater fishing is in the summer doldrums. But not in trout country. This month brings the peak of Tricorythodes mayfly hatches to many trout rivers. The flyfishing can be exceptional.
Tricos are pretty small bugs. I typically use flies ranging from 20s down to size 26 to imitate them. And they’re active early. The spinner fall, which is most important, happens in most places not long after dawn--well before the heat of the day sets in. But if you’re out and about, you’ll see the spinner swarms looking like clouds of mist or smoke in the distance--as in the photo.
I’ll offer a couple of tips for fishing this hatch, but first--if you want the full skinny on these mayflies and how to fish the hatch--check out the website Trout Nut. The site’s author does an exceptional job with both entomology and fishing suggestions for a variety of common trout-stream insects.
As to my own trico fishing, 6X tippets are the general rule; sometimes 7X with the smallest of flies. I’ll walk the banks or wade very slowly (making no ripples), while searching for rising fish. Risers tend to stay on top, sipping sometimes in rapid rhythm. Time your fly’s drag-free drift to match the rhythm of the rises. There tend to be so many naturals on the water that such precision in casting becomes essential.
With really difficult fish--and you will doubtless encounter some--one particular trick has often worked: Fish your trico spinner pattern wet instead of dry. Sometimes a spinner pattern drifting a few inches under the surface will work when all else fails.
This can be fussy, frustrating fishing, and thus not for everybody. But among major seasonal hatches, tricos are perhaps the most predictable. I can head to the river early on any nice day this month and pretty much count on finding both flies and rising trout. Stormy weather and winds kill the action by preventing the mating swarms, in which case the spent mayflies aren’t falling to the water in large numbers.
I say all this while knowing that much of the country is suffering from drought and heat. If your favorite river and its fish are in dire straights as a result, they’re probably better off left alone. But in those rivers with reasonable and cool August flows, the trico fishing this month is as good as you’re going to get.